The origins of May Day April 30, 2009Posted by Andreas in "The Economy", activism, anarchism, History, Politics, Work.
For many people it comes as a bit of a surprise that May Day doesn’t have its origins in, say, revolutionary Russia, the Soviet Union or China – what with all those hideous military parades on Red Square and Tiananmen Square of rows and rows of rocketry filing past gigantic banners of Marx, Lenin and Mao.
The celebration of the first of May as International Workers’ Day, in fact, goes back to the United States in the 19th Century and involves several high-profile anarchists. In the late 1800’s there was a widespread movement for the establishment of an 8-hour working day which coincided with massive repression of workers by authorities, factory owners and the police. At a workers’ rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square on the 4th of May 1886 a bomb was thrown at police.
Who threw the bomb was never discovered, but police used the incident to charge eight prominent anarchists with the crime, four of which were subsequently hanged.
For a more thorough and detailed re-telling of the events, have a look at this article by Chicago indymedia.